A Tale of Two Movements: Social Movement Mobilisation in Southern Russia

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YEREVAN, Armenia – Karena Avedissian, a Fellow at the University of Southern California, led a seminar at the American University of Armenia on November 11 that explored two social movements in southern Russia and how they are interrelated. Avedissian, who holds a PhD from Birmingham University, focused on the environmental movement in Krasnodar Krai and the ethno-national Balkar movement in Kabardino-Balkaria for the period between 2000 to the present.

The seminar, which was organized by the Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, addressed two important questions: First, do social movement dynamics operate the same way in non-democratic contexts as in democratic contexts? Second, can the same methods developed in Western liberal democracies for studying social movements be applied to non-democratic settings?

The talk focused on southern Russia for a number of reasons. Putin’s tenure as president and premier from 1999 to the present has resulted in reassertion of government control on domestic mass media, the crackdown on dissenting elite, and repression of political opposition and independent civil society. These changes have created an environment for social movements characterised by higher degrees of state coercion and more scarce opportunities for social movements to engage in open communication with constituencies.

Another reason for focusing on southern Russia is that post-Soviet social movements have remained heavily understudied in the West.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.

_DSC2288 Karena Avedissian led a seminar at AUA that explored two social movements in Russia 


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